Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Just Ask, Part 2

watercolor on paper, 7" x 10"
So as not to be simply rendering, but to be adding a touch of something else to Ask's portrait, I played up the elongation, the sinuous S curvature...and perhaps the shading under his left eye.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Rituxan: It Might Be Working

A month after Rituxan infusion #1, and two weeks after infusion #2, and I am feeling sort of like a healthy person! I should probably be charting this...which will not happen, but this post (or series of such) will serve as documentation for future reference. 

Many of my Sjogren's Syndrome manifestations have lessened, my eyes have not felt like they've just been squirted with acid or blasted with sand. My nose has not been uncomfortably dry; my breathing, comfortable.* My mouth, always super-dry, has been incrementally less so, my lips only sticking to my teeth...well...less than the norm. 

I still cannot swallow even the smallest bite of food without a liquid chaser, though. That gets scary. Often.

It could be that it's warmer (although this weekend certainly wasn't!) and that it's been humid, but things are looking up, and for the moment, I am giving Rituxan the credit. Further monitoring ahead.

*The extreme dryness extends right down my nose/mouth and into my lungs.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Plastic Surgery with Scissors and Tape


I have once again been attempting to paint a self-portrait, and it hasn't been going well. Here's the latest* version, as of last night:
One of my eyeballs really is higher than the other. (Maybe by not this much.) Doctors are always thinking "Myasthenia Gravis," but I don't believe any tests have indicated this, so it's just benign asymmetricality. 

However, it doesn't look like me. It does look a little bit like 
Mary Whyte, the Watercolor Master who's work holds central position in the altar of Those I Admire. Cassidy was quick to point out my problem: proportional issues. (And overly-thin lips.)

I set out, with scissors, to do what I could.
The result does look like me. Me, when I stand behind electrical fencing, gazing at livestock while dressed for dinner. The eye asymmetry is even a little closer to reality!

*Actual "latest version" is the little full-figure-on-a-stool to the left.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Lesson 5-How top Observe + Medical Asides

In lesson five of Learn Art in a Year, we are instructed to "avoid the impulse to copy" and to really, really  observe and quantify...and while observing, to relate the shapes that we see to simple shapes, like squares, rectangles, and so on. To COMPARE. Compare is a big word in this lesson, as we are to compare the proportions shapes of the various simplified geometric shapes that objects (a figure, the objects in a still life, etc.) are made up of, as we draw them.

It's a pretty straightforward lesson.

I had my second in the series of two Rituxan infusions the other day, and it went well. The only immediate noticeable effects were that I was high-strung that afternoon/evening (result of the steriod, methodext--something) and for a couple of days afterward my skin hurt--slightly--to the touch. Oh--and now I kind of seem to be coming down with a cold, likely due to the suppression of my immunity to anything, including myself. Oh #2--and in an unrelated medical topic, I have apparently dislodged and lost one of my punctal plugs but not noticed it, which sort of indicates that they are/were not helping out too much.

Back to ART: Stay tuned for my new attempt at a self-portrait, in the works at this moment. I'd really like to get this down, but staring at myself is oh, so freaky!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Another Stab at Portraiture

Going completely against my plan to only render people who I don't know, I sketched up this gentlewoman and added some color.
There are problems, yes, but all-in-all, she's...

Thursday, May 16, 2013

What I Lack in Skill...

..I make up for with Persistence. 

Or maybe not "make up for," but I do keep trying.

I haven't posted in a week because I was diligently working on a portrait of Handsome in oil paint, and I didn't want to do the Saran Wrap On The Scanner method of documentation, because that came out pretty weird.

So I waited until the portrait was dry enough to scan. (Turned out not to be quite dry enough, because now there are oil blobs on the scanner. Oops.)

It's not terribly, terribly, depressingly bad, but the man is actually much better looking, and his chin, while chiseled and dimpled, 
is not so overwhelmingly large. 

Then, since I generally get more enjoyment out of watercolor portrait sketching, I set out to improve upon my attempt, 
this time, in watercolor. 

I think it might be wise to stick with 
portraits of people I do not know. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Lesson 4 of "Learn Art in a Year"

Drawing from Observation

"To observe is to look at something....Attention keeps the mind constantly on the task. Lack of a serious drawback for an artist. It causes mistake leads to another."

"Intelligence enables us to direct, understand and develop any task of observation." (Oh, no. There's intelligence involved.) 

"Never confuse observation with imitation. Observing is not copying. If you only use your eyes and hand, you are not observing, you are copying. We only observe well when we are employing all our sensitivity and all our intellect."

Then , to paraphrase (or "paralist")

to Copy
- get the details down

to Observe: study the subject,  then raise a thousand questions.
- analyze
- reflect
- understand
- register

Put visual memory to the test! Observe, THINK, then render.

from Learn Art in One Year by Robert Girard, Avenel Books, NY, 1965 and 1968.

This is the reference photo of the painting I'm working on this week. So far, the proportions are ok, but the color is off.* Not warm enough. Might a warm glaze (with some orange) over the whole face help? I might try that. However, it's the background--the landscape--that's giving me the real trouble. 
Landscapes are SO HARD.

*Note: I've noticed with my own work that proportion and value are so much more important than actual color, in rendering portraits. Is this true in general?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Watercolor Woman

My watercolor version of a photo from Yankee Magazine.

For whatever reason, I am capable of sitting down with a brush and a pan of watercolors and staying loose and having fun and painting a human that resembles a human, without over-fussing and without tearing out my hair and beating my head on the desk.

This doesn't happen when I break out the oil paints. My fingers just freeze up with the "importance" of the medium or something, 
and the results are never happy.

So why do I SO want to keep at it?!?
Maybe it's high time I just focused on watercolor....

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Rituxan Infusion Day One

After spending the morning and a couple of afternoon hours hooked up to the first of my semi-annual-two-day Rituxan infusion, meant to kill "B cells" and to hamper my immune system in its quest to fight--not bad germs and such, but--me. Despite my mother's repeated urging to go to bed for the rest of the day, I feel fine. Rested. (It did involve sitting on my butt for many hours of inactivity.) 

I feel fine enough that I really did mean to go out and mow the lawn when I got home. Hey--there are steroids involved! But then "when I got home" became "after I do a bit of painting," and, well, now I have to get some supper before going out to a Library Board meeting. 

Maybe I'll mow tomorrow.

Here's wishing that fewer B cells turn around my Sjogren's Syndrome. Or forestall some developments. At least a little bit.

watercolor on paper